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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session of
January 30, 2017

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features legislative activities during the Session Week of January 30, 2017.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatordonwhite.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the "contact" button. Please do not "reply" directly to this e-mail.

Sincerely,

Don White


Pennsylvania Must Review Out-of-Control Drug Costs

1/30/17 - Prescription Drug Pricing in Pennsylvania

Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Monday, I announced that I am reintroducing legislation calling for a thorough review of prescription drug pricing in Pennsylvania. Audio

Healthcare costs overall are out of control and pharmaceuticals are a big part of that. Given the magnitude of the industry, there is a great need for transparency and accountability. Therefore, I am reintroducing Senate Bill 893 from last session that will establish the Pharmaceutical Transparency Commission to review drug prices in Pennsylvania. This legislation will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose information about their pricing. It will also establish a commission comprised of government officials and private sector representatives who will review the prices and determine if they are reasonably priced in relation to the overall cost of producing the drug.

Drug prices and the strident efforts of industry lobbyists to deflect government scrutiny of the issue are nationwide problems that have garnered the attention of the new Administration in Washington.

President Donald Trump recently said pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder.” I could not agree more and I was encouraged by his recognition of the arbitrary pricing tactics of Big Pharma and the resulting skyrocketing drug costs across America. President Trump also said Big Pharma has “a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.” This is something that is not only true in Washington, but here in Pennsylvania. I have seen this first-hand over the last few years as they continue to spend exorbitant amounts of money lobbying for insurance coverage mandates for expensive and often times unproven drugs. They have also repeatedly thwarted any attempts to require transparency in their egregious pricing tactics that leave many Pennsylvanians unable to afford their medications.

Escalating cost issues for cancer medications and lifesaving drugs, such as epi-pens, as prime examples of a marketplace that is out-of-control and needs to be reined in.

While Governor Wolf faces many challenges in the upcoming legislative session, I hope he will make drug pricing and affordability a priority. This is truly a bipartisan issue that will help all Pennsylvanians. I encourage all my colleagues in the General Assembly to support this important piece of legislation that will shed light on the pricing of the pharmaceutical industry and will result in more reasonable and affordable prices for lifesaving drugs in Pennsylvania.

Child Abuse, Leaseholder Protection, Animal Cruelty Bills Sent to House

The Senate this week approved bills eliminating the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, increasing protections for natural gas leaseholders, and strengthening criminal penalties for abusing horses.

Senate Bill 261, approved by the Senate on Wednesday, eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and gives victims additional time to file civil actions against their abuser. Currently, victims have until age 30 to file a civil claim. Senate Bill 261 would set the deadline at 50 years of age.

Two bills protecting natural gas leaseholders were approved by the Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 138 gives royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment. It also requires that proceeds from production of oil and gas be paid within 90 days unless otherwise stated in the lease.

Senate Bill 139 prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a royalty owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development simply because the landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 69, which addresses the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws as they pertain to horses.

All of the bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves “Reboot” of SR 60

On Tuesday, the Senate approved a measure to review Pennsylvania’s progress in providing essential support to its volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations.

Senate Resolution 6 calls for a “reboot” of Senate Resolution 60 of 2003, the comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004. SR 6 calls for a new commission made up of legislators, first responders and representatives from municipalities. The panel would follow up on the impact of SR 60 and study issues currently affecting first responders. The commission would then provide its recommendations to the General Assembly by June 30, 2018.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate APPROPRIATIONS Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 170 imposes comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.

Senate Bill 181 establishes a performance-based budget component.

Senate Bill 261 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.

State Government

1/31/17 - Consideration of Bills

The Senate STATE GOVERNMENT Committee approved four bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 9 ensures that illegal immigrants residing in Pennsylvania do not receive public benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and unemployment compensation.

Senate Bill 166 ensures that political campaign funds are not collected by public sector unions through government-provided mechanisms funded by taxpayer resources.

Senate Bill 167 calls for a Constitutional amendment ending the practice of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money used for politics.

Senate Bill 169 requires lobbyists to register and file reports electronically with the Department of State and that information be posted on the department’s website within seven days.

Education

The Senate EDUCATION Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 227 gives school boards new options regarding superintendent contracts.

Senate Bill 229 eliminates mandated sick and bereavement leave benefits and makes both subject to collective bargaining negotiations.

Judiciary

The Senate JUDICIARY Committee approved six bills this week.

Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.

Senate Bill 146 requires the Department of Revenue to determine whether lottery winners of $2,500 or more owe court-ordered obligations and to deduct any amounts owed before paying out the prize.

Senate Bill 176 requires those investigating and reporting child abuse or animal abuse cases to “cross-report” possible abuse cases.

Senate Bill 221 prohibits the sale of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors.

Senate Bill 222 adds court of common pleas judges in several counties across the state.

Senate Bill 261 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.

Game & Fisheries

The Senate GAME & FISHERIES Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 30 gives the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission the authority to set fees for licenses.

Senate Bill 123 adds falconry to the list of exemptions for Sunday hunting.

Senate Bill 192 gives the Game Commission the authority to set fees for hunting and fur-taking licenses.

Labor & Industry

The Senate LABOR & INDUSTRY Committee approved Senate Bill 241 on Wednesday. The bill prohibits sexual discrimination in employee pay rates.

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